Steps in a Garden, 1860. William Henry Millais (British, 1828-1899). Watercolor and gouache with scratch-away technique to create highlights on sturdy-weight wove paper; sheet: 33.8 x 26 cm (13 5/16 x 10 1/4 in.); secondary support: 39 x 32.4 cm (15 3/8 x 12 3/4 in.). The Cleveland Museum of Art, Gift in memory of Helen Borowitz 2013.240
The older brother of John Everett Millais, William Henry was closely associated with the founding members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Following his brother’s encouragement, William sketched extensively from nature in the early 1850s. Here, he painted a sequestered landscape of rough-hewn steps ascending a shady slope. A smattering of light pierces a dense canopy of trees, allowing little to flourish except for the foxgloves that adorn the foreground. Ivy growing on the hillside, a decaying stump, and moss-covered steps suggest the passage of time.